West African Bloc Condemns Nigerien Military's Plan to Prosecute Ousted President, US Expresses Concern

By Agencies August 15, 2023 3042

The United States is very concerned about the news that Niger's military administration intends to prosecute former President Mohamed Bazoum for high treason. During a daily press briefing, State Department deputy spokesman Vedant Patel expressed the US's dismay over this development.

Patel stated that the action taken against President Bazoum is completely unwarranted and unjustified. He also mentioned that it will not contribute to a peaceful resolution of the crisis in Niger.

ECOWAS's Stance on Military Intervention
When asked about the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)'s recent announcement regarding the situation in Niger, Patel highlighted that ECOWAS has been clear in stating that military intervention should be a last resort. The US agrees with this stance and is focused on finding a diplomatic solution. They are in close contact with ECOWAS and its leadership.

US Secretary of State's Phone Call
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken had a phone call with Nigerian President Bola Tinubu. The Secretary commended President Tinubu's leadership during the Economic Community of West African States Second Extraordinary Summit on the situation in Niger.

Blinken emphasized the importance of maintaining pressure on the National Council for the Safeguarding of the Country (CNSP) to restore constitutional order and secure the release of President Mohamed Bazoum and his family.

Background on President Bazoum's Detention
On July 26, a group of soldiers detained President Bazoum and announced their actions on Nigerien state television. They claimed that the deteriorating security situation and bad governance led them to take this step.

President Bazoum was elected in 2021, marking Niger's first democratic power transition since gaining independence from French colonial rule in 1960.

ECOWAS Condemns Prosecution Plan
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) strongly condemned the Nigerien military administration's plan to prosecute former President Mohamed Bazoum. In a statement, ECOWAS expressed its shock at the attempt to bring charges against Bazoum.

ECOWAS denounced this move as another form of provocation and contradicted the reported willingness of the military authorities in Niger to restore constitutional order peacefully. The bloc reiterated its condemnation of Bazoum's illegal detention and demanded his release and reinstatement.

Efforts for Diplomatic Resolution
Despite the tensions, a group of senior Nigerian Islamic scholars who visited Niger stated that the Nigerien military administration is open to a diplomatic approach to resolve the standoff with ECOWAS.

General Abdourahamane Tiani, the former commander of Nigers presidential guard, declared himself the head of a transitional government after the military intervention that ousted President Bazoum on July 26.